Pioneers Measure Up in California

Men’s Basketball Blasts along on a Wild Out-of-State Road Trip

By John Trupin /// Staff Writer

While most of the campus was curled up in tryptophan-induced doldrums this Thanksgiving break, the Lewis & Clark men’s basketball team (4-2) competed in the David Wells Classic Tournament in Claremont, CA. The Pioneers measured themselves against some of the top teams on the West Coast. Both Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (5-1) and Pomona-Pitzer (2-2) are strong teams that could stand in LC’s path again if they reach the NCAA Tournament.  The Pios split the trip with a loss and a win, but returned to campus with confidence and a sense of identity.

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Game one on Friday, Nov. 28 pitted the Pios against the Stags of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS).  The first half was a grim affair for those who enjoy high scoring shootouts, with both teams struggling from the floor. At halftime, the score was 22-20 in favor of the Stags, but the wheels came off in the second half for LC as the Pios couldn’t buy a basket, and LC ended up losing 55-34.

Starting guard Jason Luhnow (’16) said, “We couldn’t throw [the ball] in the ocean.”  For a team that prides itself on working inside-out on the offensive side, the Pios felt as though they had strayed from their wheelhouse. While the defense was strong, holding CMS to 39.1 percent shooting from the field and winning the rebound battle 41-32, the Pios were unable to finish, shooting a paltry 20.5 percent from the field, and managing only three assists as a team.

Patience was what the Pios lacked in the first game of the trip according to Luhnow, and that patience paid off against the Sagehens of Pomona-Pitzer, as LC launched a second-half run on the back of guard Serg Ovchinnikov (’16), whose 17 points led the Pios 74-68 comeback win. “We looked to work inside-out,” Luhnow said of the victory. “On Friday night we took some good shots, but I think Saturday we made an effort to get great shots.”

The Pios’ lone out of state trip this season was a good measuring stick for the team, who have just three games before the Northwest Conference schedule begins in January.  The players iterated the importance of “getting comfortable being uncomfortable,” and the value of taking a quick trip like this with short turnarounds for games as revealing of the identity of the team as a whole.

In their final game before winter break, the Pios took a much shorter trip to Eugene, OR on Tuesday, Dec. 2 to face National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics opponent Northwest Christian University, emerging with a frustrating 77-54 loss that will leave them hungry to rebound going into the break.

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